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Sports / Recreation

CSU volleyball team to host national champion UCLA

June 29, 2012

The Rams will take on six teams that played in last year's NCAA Tournament as part of an ambitious 2012 schedule

Middle blocker Megan Plourde, who was an All-American in 2011, is one of four returning seniors for the Rams. A Sept. 15 home match against defending national champion UCLA is the highlight the 2012 CSU volleyball schedule released this week.

The Rams, seeking their fourth consecutive Mountain West title and 18th consecutive NCAA Tournament appearance, play six teams that qualified for the NCAA’s last year as part of a challenging schedule set up by 16th-year coach Tom Hilbert.

“We have a tough schedule, and we’re bringing some really good opponents to Moby Arena,” Hilbert said. “We have four seniors and a good team, and we want to entertain our fans with some of the best teams in the country.”

Challenging stretch

Other NCAA teams on the 2012 schedule include Wichita State (Aug. 30, at Wichita State tournament), Tennessee (Aug. 31, at Wichita State tournament), Oklahoma (Sept. 2), Pepperdine (Sept. 7) and Northern Colorado (Nov. 13, in Greeley). The Rams will play four of the six NCAA teams in an eight-day stretch early in the season.

The Rams, coming off a 24-6 season in which they advanced to the second round of the NCAAs, open the campaign Aug. 24-25 with their own Colorado State Invitational, hosting Virginia, Denver and Rhode Island. They also host the annual Rams Volleyball Classic Sept. 7-9, playing Pepperdine, Florida International and New Mexico State.

CSU opens conference play Sept. 20 at New Mexico, with the home league opener Sept. 27 against Mountain West newcomer Nevada.

Looking for another record crowd

Hilbert is particularly excited about hosting UCLA. Last year, the Rams beat fifth-ranked Nebraska and drew a Moby Arena and Mountain West record crowd of 6,750.

“The success of the Nebraska match last year prompted me to get a really big team to Moby again,” Hilbert said. “UCLA is a really great team. They won the national championship and didn’t lose much from that team.

“Hopefully we can break another attendance record that night. Nebraska was a testament to how we benefit from playing in front of a loud Moby crowd.”

Talented team coming back

The Rams return four starters from last year’s team, including all-Mountain West selections Megan Plourde, Dana Cranston and Brieon Paige and newcomer of the year Deedra Foss.

Visit csurams.com for ticket information.